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Championing the Customer Experience

The Marketer’s Guide to Customer Experience Transformation

14 Minute Read

GuideChampioning the Customer Experience

The expanding digital landscape is constantly spawning new ways to connect with customers. As marketers, we have to react accordingly, making sure our attention, budget and headcount is focused in the right areas. The need to react fast can often mean it’s difficult to take a step back and view the bigger picture.

Social media has given birth to the ‘empowered consumer’, who holds immense influence of the reputation of brands. The customer is aware of the power they now possess and will use it to their advantage when choosing products and interacting with brands. Consumers no longer expect good customer service, they demand it.

Marketers can no longer afford to look at each customer touchpoint in isolation or solely focus their attention on customer acquisition. They need to understand the whole customer experience.

Marketers who aren’t already improving their customer experience are going to be playing catch up.

By 2017, 89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator.
— Gartner

The commoditization of customer experience

Customer experience is fast becoming a commodity. The companies that are succeeding and innovating are raising the stakes for every business, regardless of size and sector. Your customers are no longer benchmarking your customer experience based on competitors in your industry–they’re comparing you to the best customer experiences they receive anywhere.

Over the next few years, customer experience will be the main battleground that many markets will complete over. In fact, this battle is already playing out in highly commoditized markets, such as utilities and finance, where brand loyalty is fast eroding. A study by Ipsos revealed that nearly half of Millennials would consider switching their banking services in the next few years.

In a turbulent and rapidly evolving landscape, customer experience has cut through the noise to help guide marketers to future success.

Customer experience is the new marketing.
— Steve Cannon, President & CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA

Marketers owning customer experience

Business leaders are quickly realizing the importance of customer experience and in many organizations, it’s marketers who are expected to drive a customer experience strategy.

Aligning a business around customer experience may seem like a natural expansion for marketers. After all, marketing plays a pivotal role in shaping many of the interactions customers have with a brand. The reality, however, is far more complex.

The increasing number of digital touchpoints means that data relating to the customer experience is often collected through different technology, with datasets owned by different departments. Rarely are these datasets brought together in a cohesive way.

The challenge is more than just connecting datasets, it’s about revealing and sharing customer insights in a way that drives change organization-wide.

Many of the early challenges faced by the marketers will be internal—from getting buy-in at a leadership level, to collecting and connecting datasets to build a singular view of the customer.

Deloitte’s Customer Experience Maturity Model has identified seven stages an organization must progress through.

Customer Experience Maturity Model - Deloitte

Stage Description
1. Organizational buy-in Appointing a visionary leader to transform the entire organization towards delivering world-class customer experiences.
2. Breaking silos Dissolving barriers in budget, data and talent to create integrated cross-functional teams.
3. Customer journey mapping Collecting and connecting customer data to provide insight into behaviors and challenges at each touchpoint.
4. Building platforms Implementing analytics platforms that surface insights to enable improvements to the customer experience.
5. Seamless experiences Using customer insights to provide functionality and ease of interaction across channels.
6. Predictive experiences Anticipating customer needs and desires through thoughtful interactive design.
7. Emotional experiences Driving customer delight andnloyalty through emotion and unexpected interactions.

For the marketers, the success of customer experience initiatives will often come down to a single factor—the ability to change culture, organization-wide.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to overcome the internal challenges, and how platforms like Vizia can support and enhance customer experience initiatives.

About Vizia

Vizia is a data communication tool that transforms the way insights are distributed through organizations. The first iteration of Vizia was as a market-leading social media command center. It transformed real-time social data into stunning visualizations that could be displayed on screens anywhere.

Our customers used Vizia to create a window into the real-time experiences of their customers on social media. They were positioning Vizia in high footfall areas and important locations across the business: corporate headquarters, breakout areas, boardrooms, marketing departments, and customer service centers. More people were being exposed to real-life experiences of customers that they would never normally see.

We soon came to realize that social data was just a starting point for Vizia. The power of Vizia was its ability to surface the customer experience in a way that wasn’t possible before.

We’re focused on understanding the voice of the customer, connecting with all of our local markets and bringing the online world into the day-to-day business operations. Vizia has helped us achieve all of these goals.
— Lindsay Conant, Moneygram

With Vizia we aimed to go further and tackle bigger issues around data communication, by opening up our development platform to allow organizations to plug-in whatever data matters to them and introducing functionality that empowers users to tell impactful stories from their data.

1. Creating organizational buy-in

Perhaps the best way to get organizational buy-in is to show the value rather than just explain the value. Many of our customers used the first iteration of Vizia to raise the value of social in their business.

This was in the not-so-distant past when organizations were still trying to understand the applications of social media in relation to traditional business operations.

Brandwatch image

Early champions of social were able to use Vizia to highlight the real business impact of social data by allowing people to see the value for themselves. Vizia displays were surfacing real insights, not just displaying vanity metrics. Social was not just something to delegate to the intern, but an integral source of insights about consumers. By increasing the exposure to their work, these social champions were able to expand their capabilities, grow their teams and secure budget.

With Vizia, the same exposure can now benefit customer experience initiatives that are vying for attention against the noise of day-to-day operations.

Marketing and IT working together

Any kind of customer experience program is going to be supported by data.

Getting early buy-in from IT will be integral but not without its challenges. The relationship between marketing and IT has traditionally been one of conflicting priorities and structural differences.

The marketing department is built to be agile, prioritizing speed-to-market over diligence in order to acquire customers quickly and cost-effectively.

The IT department is built on stability, reliability and security.

IT prioritizes data integrity, while marketers need data activation. In the context of customer experience programs, which are built on customer data, these conflicting priorities will likely come to head.

The proliferation of data has forced these two worlds closer together and in many instances caused them to bleed into each other. Both the marketing and IT are now expected to turn data investments into growth.

Marketers should approach this relationship knowing that they can add value for the Chief Information Office (CIO), who is increasingly being expected to shift IT from a cost-center to a facilitator in driving revenue.

Data should be viewed as an enterprise asset rather than a departmental asset, as is too often the case. This broader view of data can help the CMO and CIO develop insights that deliver greater value to the business.
— McKinsey

When customer data is involved, every business needs to be diligent and referring to IT for guidance. Marketers will know greater than anyone about the reputational risks involved with customer data breaches.

2. Breaking silos

Before trying to break down silos, it’s worth acknowledging why silos exist. If we think about how organizations grow, silos will naturally start to form.

In startup mode, everyone is ready, willing, and able to work cross-functionally as the business chases growth. The business can align itself around a select set of KPIs that everyone gravitates towards as a common goal.

As the business grows, specialist teams will start to form and grow. The business may still have a common goal, but each team will create their own goals and objectives, introduce new data sources, and propose new metrics to measure their success, all while competing with other teams for budget and headcount.

The ripple effect of siloing can see departments start to divide into several sub-teams as they grow. Less mature marketing teams might compromise of a few individuals working cross-functionally—shaping brand messaging, running campaigns, writing content, managing digital advertising, and maintaining a social media presence. As marketing departments grow, specialist teams will begin to form to tackle each area with great attention.

The global expansion of a business will only heighten the siloing effect by introducing barriers of location, language, time zones and cultural differences.

Creating a shared vision

In order to break down silos, marketers needs to ensure everyone in the business is buying into a shared vision of a customer experience program.

Goals and outcomes are important, but the vision is what’s going to facilitate organizational change.

The conviction and shared aspiration that stem from understanding the customer experience an organization wants to deliver can not only inspire, align, and guide it but also bring innovation, energy, and a human face to what would otherwise just be strategy.
— McKinsey

Your customer experience vision should be relatable for all employees. After all, they’re going to be the living embodiment of the vision. They will be the ones applying it to their work and using it to shape the brand’s interactions with customers. The most obviously customer-obsessed companies tend to have a customer experience vision already embedded into the overall mission statement.

“We create happiness.” This was the vision installed by Disney executives when they first opened Disneyland in 1955, and that vision has carried through to today. It permeates through business operations, starting with the training given to new employees.

Marketers working in a business where a customer-focused mission is not already in place may feel that they have an uphill battle, but in reality it’s an opportunity to make a bigger impact by aligning the organization around a new purpose. The marketer’s role in shaping and communicating this customer experience vision is one that inverts their usual focus. Instead of marketing the business to their customers, they will be marketing their customers to the business.

Creating a common language

Customer experience initiatives rely on different teams interacting with each other and sharing knowledge more frequently. In some instances, these teams may never have interacted before and as such, communication will be a large barrier to break down.

Each team with have its own terminology that is common tongue to those within it, but alien to outsiders listening in. The same goes for the choice of communication tools and the cadence of communication between team members.

When shaping a customer experience program, marketers should be should be asking themselves:

  • How can I create a common language that speaks to everyone?
  • How can I demystify data and make it accessible for all?
  • How can I help everyone in the business see that they’re contributing to the bigger vision?

Setting a common language that the entire organization can understand is vital to ensuring early buy-in, sustaining momentum, and driving culture change.

There are three main benefits of developing and fostering a common language:

  1. A shared understanding of expectations and purpose across the organization that results in more frequent communication and fewer misunderstandings.
  2. A stronger sense of culture and identity that helps employees feel like they are part of a community and that their work is contributing to something bigger.
  3. Customers will hear more consistency throughout their interactions with the organization.

Finding the champions and building a team

To build a successful and sustaining customer experience program, marketers must start by acknowledging that they won’t be able to do it all by themselves.

Marketers should look for key individuals across the organization to become recognized champions of the customer experience. By building a centralized team, marketers will be able to ensure that all the necessary inputs are being fed into the program and that the members can provide quick access to the data and insights needed to build a broad view of the customer experience.

This team should be made up of people who are either already championing data within the organization, are strongly networked with a track record of driving change, or have regular interactions with customers to add the necessary frontline insights. Practically speaking it should be a mixture of practitioners, analysts and decision-makers, with representation from product, marketing, sales, account management, customer support, IT, finance, legal and HR.

The individuals within this cross-functional team would be brought together regularly to discuss and tackle the issues relating to customer experience. These individuals would still spend the majority of their time with their dedicated teams with the added expectation of implementing customer-focused thinking to their work and their teams work.

Marketers might also need to help create a dedicated team who are solely focused on the customer experience. This team would be responsible for the ongoing collection and analysis of data, the distribution of insights across the organization and, ultimately, running the projects that shape and improve customer journeys.

Being centered around the same data

It may not seem like the most exciting goal to aspire to, but at the heart of any successful customer experience program is consistency.

The digital universe is continually expanding. With it emerges new touchpoints and channels to support customer interactions, each generating their own data that tells its own story about the customer.

A greater number of touchpoints means that more teams are becoming responsible for managing customer interactions. While organizations can aim to implement top-down policies to inform consistency, it’s ultimately in the hands of many different individuals to make it a reality.

We’ve moved past the point where being quick to respond is enough to keep a customer satisfied. Research by Gartner showed that “measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction”.

Without the ability to bring all the data together, organizations have no way to really understand if they’re delivering consistency for their customers, let alone how to improve it at scale.

Vizia gives organizations the ability to visualize all the data that informs customer interactions in a single location. Getting every team centered around the same data is a vital step in breeding consistency across teams. Not only will it help marketers see the full story of the customer journey, it’ll also bring teams together to foster consistency internally.

Data consistency will breed a more consistent understanding of the customer and more consistent conversations between teams, which in turn inform more consistent customer interactions across the organization.

3. Customer journey mapping

Successful customer journey mapping can’t happen until the business is able to collect and understand all the data relating to customer interactions.

The marketer’s role will be to bring the relevant data together to build out an accurate view of how a customer is moving along a journey. However, it’s worth noting that customers don’t think in terms of journeys or lifecycle stages.

Organizations create journeys to try to bring coherence and structure to the multitude of ways that customers can now interact with brands. In today’s always-connected world, consumers will expect consistency regardless of the device or channel they use, or the department they’re interacting with.

This doesn’t mean that customer journey mapping it a worthless pursuit. The practice will bring the consistency that the consumer craves.

Every organization will have its own in interpretation of what data should feed into customer journey mapping, primarily because each journey will be unique based on:

  • What products and services are on offer
  • How customers are acquired
  • How the sales cycle works
  • How consumers use the product
  • What level of ongoing support is needed.

Because customer interactions are spread across a wide variety of touchpoints, there will be a wealth of datasets to draw from. A single touchpoint is rarely used by a single type of customer with a single type of need.

Touchpoint Products collecting data Questions that the data can answer
Social media Brandwatch Analytics What are the most common questions asked by prospects and customers on social media?

What are the most common customer complaints?

How responsive are we when customers interact with us?

How do people talk about in-store experiences?

What common phrases do people use when talking about our brand?

What is the sentiment associated with our brand?

What signals to customers give off before they churn?
Website Google Analytics

Adobe Analytics
How much traffic does the website get?

How long do people spend on the site?

How many visits and how long does it take before a purchase?

What is the average order value based on different customer segments?

What are the most viewed products pages?

What support pages are visited the most?

Which pages have high bounce and exit rates?
Live chat Olark

How many customers are using live chat for support?

What are the most commonly asked questions?

What is our response time?

How do customers rate their chat experience?
Email Marketo

What is the open rate and click-through rate of our emails?

How does email engagement differ based on customer segments?

What is the unsubscribe rate?

Which types of emails cause customers to unsubscribe the most?
Apps Mixpanel

How many monthly active users do we have?

Which features are most commonly used?

How does product usage differ based on experience level?
Customer success Gainsight What is our NPS?

How does NPS differ based on the customer lifecycle?

What are the common causes of churn?
CRM Salesforce

What is the length of our buying cycle?

How many prospects are in each stage of the buying cycle?

What is the value of our pipeline?

What is our average MRR?

What is the average lifetime customer value?

How are our customer loyalty schemes performing?

With Vizia, the CMO can aspire to bring all these datasets into a single platform to build an expansive view of the customer journey. Not only can we start to start to plot data along a customer journey, we can also use datasets to shine light on each other.

By connecting multiple datasets, we can begin to visualize the customer experience with quantitative and qualitative inputs. We can show verbatim customer complaints on social media next to the most visited support pages on a help center. We can understand both the data and the emotions behind the data.

Brandwatch image

We don’t just have to view them side-by-side. We can blend datasets to reveal insights that wouldn’t be normally be seen in isolation. We can start to see the bigger picture and use this information to start shaping superior customer experiences.

4. Building Platforms

In many organizations, the holistic understanding of the customer experience is not hindered by the lack of platforms to surface insights, but by three main factors:

  • There is no central platform that visualizes and make senses of all the data
  • The analysts who are surfacing insights are not able to make their voices heard
  • The consumers of data are not being reached in a way that commands their attention.

In combination, it’s clear that the challenge is not about finding insights, but acting on the insights that already exist. Improving communication is key to the success of any customer experience program.

Driving the company forward as customer-focused isn’t the responsibility of an elite few. It requires everyone in the business to be engaged and, more importantly, obsessed with the experience of their customers, even if they aren’t interacting with them on a regular basis.

In order to do that, they must be constantly exposed to the insights that help them align decisions to the needs of customer.

Empowering the analyst

Organizations are drowning in data and the analysts who hold the insights often struggle to be heard. The result is that insights go unacted upon, or never get seen at all, sitting in an unopened email in the inbox of a decision-maker. These missed opportunities will add up over time and will ultimately impact the bottomline.

We are generating insights faster than ever, but we’re still reliant on emails and PowerPoint presentations to communicate them to the elite few. Vizia helps put those insights in front of the entire organization.

The difficulty in disseminating information internally is a trend that many organizations recognize. In 2014, The World Bank carried out a study to see how many times their policy reports, which existed as PDFs, were being downloaded on their website.

They found that the nearly one-third of their reports had never been downloaded.

As the Washington Post put it, “the solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs that nobody reads”.

Furthermore, The World Bank was investing one-quarter of its budget for country services on developing these reports. It’s an example that should relatable to all organizations who are investing budget in generating insights from data.

Vizia aims to tackle this challenge by giving the analysts a new way to distribute insights throughout the business. Essentially, Vizia is a facilitator of information: a beautiful and digestible way of communicating data.

In the context, of customer experience, Vizia will give your business the communication tool needed to ensure teams remain reminded of the shared vision, get visibility on the data that measures customer experience in the wild, and get access to the insights they need to apply customer-first thinking to daily decision-making.

Moving from showing data to telling stories

Simply showing the data isn’t enough to drive change. We can flood people with more data and hope that they have the ability and time to interpret what they see and then apply what they’ve learned in the right way, but that might not be enough to drive a sustained change. It might even result in selective exposure, where decision-makers favor information which reinforces their pre-existing views while ignoring contradictory information.

For most people, anecdotes make a greater impression than data. The issue is that anecdotes are based on selective experiences and prone to confirmation bias.

We’ve all rolled our eyes at the politician on the campaign trail who sums up the will of the people by referring to an interaction with a single individual.

While it might work in politics, doing the same for your customers is risky. We can’t accurately describe the needs of all our customers based on a few selective personal interactions.

Anecdotes work because we like hearing stories. To make a lasting impression and drive change we need to stop showing people data and start using it to tell meaningful stories. With Vizia, we aren’t just giving the analyst a platform to visualize data, we’re giving them a storytelling platform.

One of the most loved features is also one of the simplest: annotations. The ability to overlay charts and data visualization with text may seems like a simple feature, but it’s actually doing something far more important. Vizia helps the analyst create a narrative from data, all while being brought to life with beautiful visualizations.

Acting now

The commoditization of customer experience is a threat to any business that hasn’t already prioritized initiatives to tackle understanding and optimizing their own customer experience.

Organizations are looking to the marketing department to drive customer experience, and rightfully so. As a marketer, you’re perfectly placed to tackle the issues involved in embedding customer experience as a top business priority—what you need now are the right tools for the job.


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